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Cleveland Kicks Off Its Year of Vibrant Green Space

Afi Scruggs/Ideastream
A presenter in a tree costume tickles attendees at Cleveland's sustainability fair.

The only tree in the Cleveland city hall rotunda on Friday was actually a presenter in a costume. As he tickled the crowd with his branches, he brought home the aim of Cleveland's 2017 sustainability effort: getting residents involved  to revitalize the city's environment.

The "tree" belonged to the exhibitors at a fair marking the seventh year of Sustainable Cleveland 2019, a decade-long environmental initiative. 

This year’s theme is the “Year of Vibrant Green Space.”  Efforts range from sprucing up parks and promoting community gardening, to engaging residents in restoring the city' dying tree canopy.

The city will accomplish the latter by rolling out "The Cleveland Tree Plan,” created two years ago with the Holden Arboretum, The Western Reserve Land Conservancy, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress and LAND Studio.  Efforts include teaching residents how to plant and care for trees, said Cleveland Chief of Sustainability, Matthew Gray. 

“There are different events where you can actually get free seedlings. There’s also a tree steward training that’s run by Holden Arboretum as well as the Western Reserve Land Conservancy, so you can actually get trained in how to maintain a tree," he said.

In the past Sustainable Cleveland 2019 has focused on energy efficiency, local foods and clean water. The initiative ends on the 50 th anniversary year of the infamous fire on the Cuyahoga River - considered the birth of the modern environmental movement.